#NYTravFest The People You Meet — Pt. 2

Sunday’s NY Travel Fest sessions were held at Hostelling International New York, a premier hostel, and one of the largest in the Americas. The landmark building located on the Upper West Side is equidistant from Central Park and the East River has a colorful history. In all the travels I’ve taken none of them have included accommodations in a hostel. HI New York layout and design blew me away, it is one part recreation center, one part dormitory, and for families traveling together, there’s a penthouse apartment for optimal privacy.

Today I attended sessions on Travel as a Personal Journey, Visual Storytelling, and Volunteer Tourism. The lunch banquet featured a selection of rice and beans, salad and barbecue chicken served outside on the patio. It was a warm and day — the perfect temperature to revel in a Taiko Drum Performance and Workshop by NY Taiko Aiko Kai sponsored by the City of Tokyo Tourism, and a dance performance from Curious on Tanzania.

I met Blaire Masseroni, a fellow Italian, and traveler. Originally from Hanover, PA, home of the famous Snyder pretzels, Blaire combines her love of fitness with travel. Her specialty is teaching women how to harness their own strength, both physical and emotional while traveling abroad.

While enjoying the sake tasting provided by Explore Tokyo, I met Jeorgina Williams, publisher of NerdDNA, an online resource that provides fundamental tools for efficient sustainable living. Jeorgina spends half the year working, and the other half traveling the world. She explains that by implementing sustainable living and conscious spending she’s able to bank enough money to pay for her travels. Her personal mantra explains it all: collect memories, not things.

Juania Owens, one of NYTF’s speakers was also enjoying the sake tasting joined by her friend Brian, a math teacher from Long Island. As founder of Amazing Perspective, a storytelling platform that examines the ideas and experiences using positive psychology, Juania was on hand to present a session on curated storytelling.

At the Visual Storytelling session, I met Matthew Schechter from NYC & Co. Tourism Group. Matt recently moved back to the East Coast from San Diego where he managed sales for the San Diego Tourism Authority. I also chatted with Michael Fox, executive producer for The Beach, a video production company, on the value of creating thought leadership content.

Sierra Brown is an account executive for DCI, the leading experts in marketing places. Sierra previously worked with the Queens Economic Development Corporation and we talked shop about local tourism, and how to create compelling content for niche audiences.

At the close of the day, I had the pleasure of meeting the wizard behind the NYTF curtain Roni Weiss, and his publicist partner in crime Natasha Linton, thanking them for the thoughtful curation of the weekend activities. Roni and his team produce the New York Travel Festival which brings together tech-savvy, immersive travelers of all stripes: industry, consumers, and media.

Trends in Exploring Music Tourism

Live music tourism in the UK alone is worth $4.6 billion dollars. When you factor in the US and other countries with musical interests, that number evolves into a $2.1 trillion dollar revenue opportunity. An under maximized opportunity at that, given the opinion of the guest speakers, interviewed at NYTF’s Exploring Music Tourism panel.

Moderated by Mita Carriman, Founder of #Globewanders a global dance music and events firm, NYTF panelists included:

  • Fiona Bloom, Founder of TheBloomEffect.com, an international music marketing agency
  • Geko Jones, Latin Music tastemaker, producer and DJ of Que Bajo latin music events
  • Justa Lujwangana, Founder of Curious on Tanzania, an experiential travel company
  • Malik Abdul-Rahmaan, Ethnomusicologist, and music producer of “Field Research,” a music series exploring beat sampling from travel destinations, and
  • Jesse Serwer, Editor in Chief of Large-up, a Caribbean music website.

Voices chimed in a discussion-style jam session on everything from understanding a destination’s culture to determining development opportunities to conceptually generating revenue while maintaining authenticity to the music. To kick it off the panelists were asked how they define music tourism, and they unanimously agreed that it is “so much more than a festival.”


Fiona Bloom, Geko Jones, Justa Lujwangana, Jesse Serwer, and Malik Abdul-Rahmaan, Exploring Music Tourism @NYTravFest @Prez13

The session was lively and informative filled with valuable insights and opinion, including:

Rock, steady. Many countries are limited in their idea of money-making genres and focus on mainstream Rock and Pop traditions. It takes patience and dedication to bring them around to realize the full revenue potential that can be generated by extending their musical tastes to include the urban sounds of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Reggae. The key is nurturing authentic relationships with country contacts–cultural attaches and consulates; when they find someone they trust who understands the landscape, the possibilities are limitless.

“The one language that is universal for everyone is music.”
Malik Abdul-Rahmaan

One love. Music is the one constant that emotionally tethers us to each other, cerebrally and culturally.  A traveler’s journey begins with the desire to immerse in the local country flavor, to be authentically present where the music comes alive. The travel experience should mirror that idea.

Coming to America. A member of the audience associated with the Czech Center shared her frustrations with the increased mobility challenges bringing artists to the US under the current administration. Visiting artists must obtain a visa, regardless of their origin country. This process can take up to (6) months and can cost as much as $5K per person. In most cases, the time and cost are unmanageable. If an artist, and even more so for academics, has traveled to one of the 7 banned countries and attempts to enter the US, you are automatically turned away at the border. Any and all social media is actively monitored if there is a statement and/or comment made that can be misinterpreted it has the potential to jeopardize an artist’s opportunity to enter the US.

For your personal discovery, the panelists also shared music recommendations:

  • Angelique Kidjo (Cameroon): Listen
  • Geko Jones (Colombia): Listen
  • Ram (Haiti): Listen
  • Chronixx (Jamaica): Listen
  • Dance Hall Riddims (Jamaica): Listen
  • Field of Research (Malaysia): Listen
  • Diamond Platnumz featuring Ne-Yo (Tanzania): Listen
  • Koku Gonza (Tanzania): Listen
  • The Zombies (UK): Listen
  • Sister Nancy (US): Listen
  • Tune-In Radio Platform for Discovery: Listen

This post originally published to Medium on 4/22/17.

#NYTravFest The People You Meet

I spent a rainy Saturday leaning into all things travel at NY TravFest, a four-day conference dedicated to connecting travel industry professionals and enthusiasts on their passion for seeing the world.

It was my first visit to the Bohemian National Hall. The building’s neo-Renaissance architectural exterior facade a pop of color on an otherwise residential street. It always amazes me how much New York is like an onion, there’s always something to uncover even when you’ve lived here all your life. Home to the Czech consulate, the New York Czech Center, the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association, and the Dvorak American Heritage Association — the building was sold by the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association to the Czech government for $1 in exchange for the Czech government agreeing to a full renovation. The interior is airy and spacious, filled with open layouts and channels of light. The conference utilized the ballroom, skybox, library and a multi-purpose room across floors 3 through 5.

Ashlea Wheeler a volunteer photographer for NYTF was kind enough to give me the lay of the land. Ashlea moved to New York from Australia and in addition to authoring A Globe Well Traveled, is dabbling in social media marketing.

After reviewing the agenda, I decide to attend the Exploring Music Tourism and Trends in Travel Tech sessions, enjoying a complimentary lunch catered by Go Go Curry USA during the mingle and meet. Festival attendees represented travel and food bloggers, travel tech startups, tourism boards, as well as operators and travel products.

Go Go Curry USA @nytravfest @prez13


Some of the people I met today:

April Hope, content creator of Love, Lust or Bust, a global community for those who love to travel, and travel for love to connect and share tales of adventure, romance, and catfish confessions.

Prashant Kankaria, founder of Locaholic, a personalized restaurant recommendations app. Prashant and his teammates, Jeet and V, were the NYTravFest on-hand tech residents, fielding questions about WordPress, Wix, and SquareSpace.

Bianca Roos is a multilingual travel coach, blogger, and photographer, originally from the Netherlands. She now calls Florida home when not out and about collecting stories for her travel blog, Globing Bianca.

Marian Goldberg a writer and publicist with expert knowledge of educational travel, travel technology, culinary, and cultural travel, especially in East Asia.

Justa Lujwangana, founder of Curious On Tanzania, an experiential travel company specializing in creating authentic Tanzanian experiences. Justa’s table in the exhibition room featured a selection of souvenirs crafted by the Women’s Cooperative of Zanzibar.

Curious On Tanzania souvenir table, @prez13

This post originally published on Medium.com/andreapreziotti

Collaborating with Google Drive

When I think about what I used to do to feed my obsession with word processing, archaic software systems like WordPerfect 2.0 and Lotus 1–2–3 come to mind. I can’t help but remember the negotiating with any and every family or friend with access to the Microsoft Office Suite professional licensing codes. This was before Microsoft introduced Home and Student /Business Professional editions that were slightly more affordable.

I would covet those floppy disks and CD-ROMs as if they family heirlooms, and nostalgically they kind of were. Together with desktop computers, the nostalgia train brings back memories of the mainframe and first iterations of the laptop produced by trusty brands like the IBM Thinkpad, Toshiba, and Dell. This was in the late 1990s before Apple’s iBook disrupted its design, and made laptops lightweight and portable. We sure have come a long way in personal computing.

As for present day, I hail to open source collaboration with the Google Docs suite and Drive filing system. It has become my go-to word processing platform, and I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. I’ve been a devotee since a former manager introduced the sharing tool as a way for our team to live collaborate on presentations, and ease the frustration of accessing the company share drive from home.

Since then I’ve plied it as a consideration for collaborators I work with — friends, colleagues, even organizations with whom I volunteer. That’s not to say there aren’t other collaboration platforms available but Google Docs has proven to be the most effective (at least for me). I particularly like the Suggested Edits features which make it easy to track changes, as you would in MSWord or Pages. And I’m constantly discovering new ways to maximize my experience. For instance, I recently started using Explore, a feature that scans your document and then searches the web for related content to aid in research purposes.

Do you have a favorite collaboration tool? If so, how has it changed the way you work?

This article originally posted on Medium on 10 April 2107.

Work Potion #9: Michael Strahan on How to Succeed in Business

Earlier this week I attended Salesforce’s Small Business Basecamp, a half-day conference offering hands-on advice on how to grow and launch your business. In addition to Salesforce, there were many leading brands represented including Amazon Business, Squarespace, WeWork, Yelp, Zenefits, RingCentral, and others. The agenda featured a fireside chat with media personality and SuperBowl Champion, Michael Strahan. Below are excerpts of Strahan candidly sharing lessons from his experience in business and as an entrepreneur:

  • When presented with a new opportunity: Do it for yourself. You have to take a chance on yourself.
  • On what moves him forward: I try not to be scared. I’m scared every day. I’m scared right now. With football, I was driven by fear more than I was driven by success.
  • On transitioning from sports to Live! I had already convinced myself that it was too hard for people to see you outside of what you already normally did, and that was a roadblock I had for myself. (When trying something new) you almost feel that most people don’t want to see you succeed at more than one thing. I had to get over that.
  • On making the most of the journey: Go on and have fun with it. I had fun with it, I enjoyed myself. And that’s not something you can mask, I was genuinely enjoying myself (on Live!).
  • On imperfection: We’re all human. I didn’t want to be perfect. Nobody wants to be perfect. I don’t want to be perfect, it’s too hard to try.


    Michael Strahan, Salesforce Basecamp @prez13

  • On his reaction to GMA’s job offer: (At first) I said no because I was scared to death, it was so far out of my wheelhouse of what I did. It was one thing to jump from sports to daytime morning television, but it’s another thing to jump to a news division. Then I realized am I not trying it because I don’t think I can do it, or am I not trying it because I’m scared. There is a difference, (and) when I really thought about it, it was because I was scared. And so I gave it a shot.
  • On his role at GMA: I’ve learned something throughout every journey. And I feel like GMA is so different from anything I’ve ever done. It’s the most difficult TV thing I’ve ever done. It requires a muscle that I’ve never had to exercise, and so it makes every day interesting for me.
  • On teamwork: You have to know everybody on your team. You have to know how to inspire certain people because everybody’s not the same. You need to know how to push each and every individual.
  • On leading a business: When I was on the field I was representing them (everyone). And that’s how I look at our company now, everybody is working for us, everybody feels valuable no matter what their role is because we all work for each other.

Driven to distraction: every single day

How many times have you had a great idea and filled with inspiration and momentum switched over to a productivity app or a post-it to jot it down only to be distracted mid-thought? This happens to me every single day.

I troll the Internet for advice on how to thwart distractions and sharpen my focus. The last time I Googled there were 25,000,000 search results to scroll through. 25 million! On just as many pages, I might add. Even Siri couldn’t provide an adequate estimate of time on how long it would take me to read all of it. Although there was a really great article on how to measure the distance of a light-year, but I digress.

And, has this ever happened to you? You’re in the middle of writing this amazing blog piece (literally, this one) and the processing unit on your Macbook starts to kvetch. You know what I’m talking about, the little rainbow pinwheel that seems to spin into infinity as all these thoughts run through your mind like a conveyor belt on overdrive. All the while you’re thumb typing a note on your phone as quickly as possible hoping to not miss a synapse of intelligence as you wait for the disk utility to run a diagnostic test. And you know it’s really bad when Force Quit is frozen.

“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.” — Tom Kite

Then finally, you’re back to it…uhm, if only you could remember what IT was. Just kidding! But seriously speaking nothing is safe from the distractions of living in a technologically connected world. Even as I’m typing a friend is texting me sending a symphony of sounds through the apartment because although I muted my computer, all my devices are connected and well, you can figure out the rest.

The only time I can truly focus is when I’m on the mat. There is something soothing in the voice of the instructor, in the repetition of breath and movement, and yes, even in the ambient noises of my fellow yogis grunting and sighing through the poses.

My yoga studio is a 2-minute walk from my apartment (and my home office). I make a conscious decision to leave my phone in its charger while I’m at class. This is my daily 90-minute technology-free zone. For some, that may seem like a huge chunk of time, and for others, it may not seem like much at all but any amount of time you consciously dedicate to yourself is a positive thing.

When you will yourself to focus, the things that matter most rise to the top of your priorities. When you will yourself to focus, you cultivate resistance to the distractions that may cross your path. When you will yourself to focus you realize you are the key to your own success.

It’s something I have to remind myself of every single day.


This piece originally posted on Medium. Photo Credit: (c) Andrea Preziotti, 2016.

#First7Jobs: A Career Blueprint

An Alaskan musician (who I’m sure has seen an uptick in her Twitter followers) asked the Twittersphere “What were your first 7 jobs?” and its hashtag #FirstSevenJobs blew up social media, as several celebrities and business moguls, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, responded to the post.

So much of who we are today is shaped by the experiences of our past. When I think back to my own #first7jobs, I can see the blueprint of my career path taking shape.

#1: Scaturro Food Market, Cashier. I was a shy, gawky teenager and the summer before I started high school my mom gently suggested I look for a job to supplement expenses. I sat in the parking lot of the local Italian supermarket for hours, working up the nerve to go inside when one of their delivery drivers said hello. That hello led to a conversation that led to an introduction, and a trial run at being a cashier. My first success at networking.

#2: Brighton Beach Summer Camp, Counselor for Boys. I was in charge of two dozen mischievously, adorable 7-9-year-old boys. I spent the summer coaching them through softball, cornhole and potato bag races and corralling them on local outings to the New York Aquarium, Astroland and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. They kept me on my toes with real-time on-the-job problem-solving–foundational learning that has served me well throughout my career.

#3: Marist College, Leo Hall, Resident Assistant. Once in college, I accessed that quick problem-solving camp experience and applied it to the supervision of a floor of coeds. Age nineteen and nurturing women as they started their academic, social and personal growth. It was my responsibility to foster an inclusive and inspiring community that offered guidance and support to 48 young adults, most of whom were away from home for the first time. Being an RA helped develop my management and team building skills; it also forced me to find my footing and my voice.

#4: Varied Temp Agencies & Assignments. My mom started her secretarial career as a clerk at the library reference at CBS. (An experience that led to her first brush with celebrity when Katherine Hepburn stopped by to chat while researching for her role in Desk Set.) Temping provides an opportunity for a hands-on experience unlike any other: from data entry to project management, word processing, and legal proofreading. It was also a great way to meet new people. I temped every school break through graduation and during stretches of unemployment, where I soon learned temporary work isn’t always temporary. Two assignments led to permanent roles at NBC and Conde Nast.

#5: Marist College Campus Security, Overnight Dispatcher. The shifts varied and included the graveyard–that time of night where anything can happen. As the dispatcher, I recorded emergency calls in the logbook, monitored the fire alarm system, and issued parking permits. In emergency situations that involved local law enforcement, it was imperative to communicate events clearly and capture all details accurately. It also helped to have good penmanship.

#6: Abercrombie & Fitch, Customer Sales. The summer after graduation, I crossed over to the dark side, working my first-ever retail job. It was the late 90s, and it was practically a rite of passage for fresh college grads. At the time both The Limited Co. and The Gap were well-known for working their retail staff to the bone, and Abercrombie was no exception. It was a crash course in round-the-clock customer service, and my first foray into the global market: The flagship store at the South Street Seaport was a magnet for foreign tourists.

#7: Random House/Ballantine Books, Freelance Proofreader. Working retail was unfulfilling, and it wasn’t until I started taking classes toward a Book Publishing Certificate from NYU that I met Nancy Inglis. Nancy, Copy Chief for Ballantine, also taught a course in Copyediting & Proofreading. She later hired me as a freelancer for the imprint. Over the course of four years, I proofread mass-market/trade fiction and nonfiction manuscripts marking corrections, as well as correcting errors in type, format, grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and adhering content to style guides. It was this role that led to my true calling toward a career path in storytelling, editing, and writing, finally putting my B.A. in Creative Writing to good use.

What were your #First7Jobs, and how did they shape you? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: @HollywoodReporter.com


Conversational Storytelling, or The Art of Sneezing


not Adele.

It’s just me,
Andrea. We haven’t met yet.
But I think we will, one day soon.

I’ll be the one writing in a notebook with a pencil, drinking coffee;

there’s one chair free, it’s opposite of me. You may hesitate momentarily at the idea of sharing space with a stranger,

then decide to walk over and ask, “May I sit here?” at the same moment I lift a Limited Edition Blackwing from the page, glance upward with a kind smile and say, “Of course.”

I clear off half the tabletop for your laptop, textbook, newspaper, iPhone, hard drive, earbuds, glasses, tissues, and whatever else you remove from the knapsack on the floor, as you place the cold/hot beverage on the corner closest to your dominant hand, pull out the creaky wood chair and fold your frame into it.

Seconds, minutes, hours pass in silence. Then you sneeze, I say Salute. Your eyebrows either furrow in confusion or your serious, not-so-serious face cracks a smile. Then you pull an earbud from your ear and we start talking about different customs on how to respond to sneezing. We debate the best way to cover your nose and mouth (hand or inner elbow) and rate the softness of tissues. I remember carrying twenty tissue packets on my trip to Asia and still not having enough. You laugh and nod knowingly.

I smile. You smile. Boom: we’ve connected. The stories we exchange become a part of our daily tapestry, anecdotes we retell later to co-workers, friends, and family. A debate we post on a blog, across social media or even at our local. They may even inform a purchase when we run out of tissues.

A chair scrapes against the floor, a phone rings nearby and the ambient noises float back to the foreground. You check your watch, I check mine. We say our goodbyes, maybe even exchange information.

Humans thrive on creating emotional connections. We connect through our stories, learning about the world and each other through shared experiences.

Conversational storytelling creates moments for brands to make real-life connections with consumers.

If all you have is this one moment,
how will you use it?
Share your stories.

Right here,

This post originally published on Medium. The format of this post was created in a Fibonacci Sequence.


Photo Credit: David’s Mighty 3